Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Good Mommy Moment

Today I feel like a rock star.

Several months ago, we bought some fluffy pink fabric with the intent of making a blankie for Gwen as a back-up to the fuzzy green one she got for her First Christmas from Nana. But since I couldn't unearth my sewing table for the longest time, it was only yesterday that I finally got to cutting up the satin border and sewing it onto the blanket material. I was 3/4 done by the end of nap time and completed it after Gwen went to bed. Then I folded it up and put it in the middle of the hallway between Gwen's room and the stairs.

This morning, I got a rather cheerful baby out of bed, who insisted on bringing her blankets out of the crib with her, but she left them in her room as she dashed towards the stairs at my suggestion to "go eat breakfast." She flew past the new blankie, but then paused, turned around, and stood over the mystery pile. I picked it up and wrapped it around her, much to her sudden delight. She laughed with joy and snuggled the soft new blankie as I carried her down the stairs.

It's not a perfect sewing job and I have enough material to make a better one, but I figure I'll just save that for a back-up in case this one ever gets lost. Kids don't require perfection, just love, and this blanket started with a mommy's love and now will collect lots of that of a little girl.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Bad mommy moment - the realization

As I write this, my 16 month old daughter is crying because she bonked her head on the corner of the junk drawer, which she was raiding. I pick her up and she holds a batter charger up to my ear with a tear-filled smile, expecting and getting a playful "Hello?" from her predictable mother. Other interesting items in said drawer, now barely accessible to my amazonian toddler, are a hammer, two toothbrushes impregnated with copper polish, some needle nose pliers, glue, crayons, and a loose stack of index cards. She finds some quarter sized furniture pads leftover from when we installed hardwood floors in the front room and decides to chew on one. I'm honestly surprised that she doesn't cry as I take them away. She does cry when I take away the box of thumb tacks.

Maybe I should get a lock for that drawer.

I had the realization that I have frequent Bad Mommy Moments as I took a shower this morning. From somewhere, my daughter had obtained an opened box of 50 (probably about 44 at this point) latex gloves, which I shamelessly allowed her to play with as I took a shower. My shower has glass walls, so I usually let her roam free as I take my daily hydro therapy treatment. I realized halfway through shaving my legs that she had pulled every single glove out and they lay strewn around her like a small explosion. She wasn't chewing on them and I figured a latex allergy would have made itself know by this point, so I continued on to the other leg. By the end of my shower, she had stuffed every glove back into the box save two, little forgotten hand-shaped balloons. My theory? Better gloves than baby wipes, which are impossible to get back into their container.

Things I frequently remind myself:
-I know the baby heimlich
-My child is neither neutropenic nor thrombocytopenic
-Dirt builds antibodies

Thanks, Mom.

Monday, July 12, 2010

James turns twenty-something!

So, today is James's birthday. Hooray for James! :) He took the day off and we had a wonderful day as a family.

Wait, back up a bit. I forgot to mention the part where we went to the Oregon Country Fair and Gwen got heatstroke and we had to cut our trip to the coast short because she was running a fever of 101.9 and su-u-u-u-u-per fussy and cranky all night and all the way home. I guess I'll just have to write another post about that.

This is a happy post about James's birthday.

So, we woke up to a happy little girl and decided to drive over to Bob's Red Mill for some breakfast. We'd never been, but Mom said it was a good spread (with lots of gluten-free options), so we figured we'd try it out. Well, we happened to leave the house at five minutes to 8 am, which only struck us as a bad idea when we hit the highway. We never deal with morning traffic on a regular basis, so it caught us off guard. In any case, we managed to get to the other side of town with minimal delay and minimal fussing on Gwen's part (it helped that I was sitting in the back - I think the previous day's marathon car ride gave her a little PTSD). As we approached the mill, we noticed a nearby office building expelling its contents of employees in a random fire drill.


Anyway, we got to the restaurant before any of them decided to utilize this delay in productivity to grab a late breakfast as we were soon settled at a table on the balcony awaiting our stone-ground goodies (or so the kitchy propaganda on the walls informed us was the case). I got a belgian waffle, fruit cup, and garden sausage. James ordered french toast and turkey bacon. Gwen got mashed up bites of my fruit cup and Mommy Milk. Everyone left the table satisfied. Except Gwen, who wanted more fruit, but she soon got over it.

We went back home and everyone took a two hour nap.

Seriously, I'm not kidding. It was awesome.

Then we all woke up at noon and Gwen got a bath and James and I got showered, did some laundry, and just chilled. We folded laundry, watched some episodes of Breaking Bad that Netflix had delivered, Gwen took another two hour nap, we had a minor first-parent-freak-out when her fever came back up to 100.3 (it'll make more sense when I've written the other post about the heatstroke), but then she cooled back down and never did get fussy this time, so all in all, it was ok.

James asked me what I wanted to do for dinner and I said, "How about sushi?" and he replied, "I was just thinking sushi!"

Ah, great minds . . . and minds attached to bellies that had such a heavy breakfast that they had skipped lunch. Turkey bacon and garden sausage notwithstanding.

We thought it would be fun to try out James's new birthday present: a Burley d'Lite bike trailer. So James hooked it up and off we went. We figured we'd only go for a short ride because a) Gwen might freak out, b) Gwen didn't have a helmet (although not necessary in the cage of the trailer, and she's still a bit too small for one), and c) it was getting late. So we rode to the sushi place and Gwen was such a champ - she had a blast! That's my little adventure girl! We locked up our bikes and took her into the restaurant. As we didn't have the car seat this time, we put her in a little booster seat and asked them if they had a little rice she could snack on. They gave us two rice balls about the size for two nigirizushi minus the raw fish on top.

Sticky rice really lives up to it's name. She had a blast and by the end, even though she probably got 90% in her mouth, the 10% spread all over the table, bench, wall, booster seat, and baby was impressive.

Yes, we are now Those Parents. The ones who bring their 7-month-old baby to a sushi restaurant and let her shriek and smear rice all over the place. At least I tried to clean up the worst of it before we left. I hope James left a nice tip.

After a brief stop at Old Navy for new shorts for me (all last year's shorts are now too big - please don't hate me) and a ride home rounded out the day wonderfully. Gwen went to sleep and James and I folded more laundry. Then we assembled the Legos that Gwen got her Dada for his birthday.

Now, time for bed. Happy birthday, pooka-love.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Dirty Thirty

I guess I should have written about this a week ago, but what can I say? Naptime is precious! I'd rather surf and mindlessly read other people's blogs than write one up myself. And when Gwen is awake, one-handed blogging is impossible.

But enough of that kind of talk.

I turned thirty last week. I thought maybe I'd have some kind of early mid-life crisis, but instead found myself in a very peaceful spot. My twenties were good years. I served a mission, earned my bachelor's degree, got married, bought a car, got a cat, earned my nursing license, bought another car, bought a house, and had a beautiful baby girl. There's really nothing about my life that I wish I'd done by this point that I haven't done. Except maybe live abroad, but now that we own the house, I'll have to wait a few years before realizing that one. I have been to Brazil twice, and made my second trip to England during my twenties.

My birthday party was a trip. We had a loose invite out for a potluck BBQ at the park down the street from our house. The day was sunny and warm, and I went to Albertsons and bought nine balloons to mark the picnic table, along with lots of fixings for the burgers and dogs. I've never bought myself balloons before. It was kindof therapeutic, like buying yourself flowers or getting a pedicure; I was happy because I treated myself to something fun and it only cost $9. Then we had to get the balloons home. I had Gwen with me, so there was a moment of hilarity where the bag boy and I were stuffing the balloons into the back of the car, trying not to smother my poor baby. I then got everything else in the trunk and got in the front seat. I don't know if it was the heat or if Gwen managed to clip the balloon with one of her little razor nails, but I heard a deafening POP! as one of the purple balloons vanished into a little sad piece of rubber. And Gwen didn't cry, which is amazing, and now I know she's not allergic to latex, which is a very good thing, but we were only half a dozen blocks from the hospital, just in case.

In any case, the baby, food, myself and eight balloons made it back home, where we got ready for whomever dropped by to party. There was a stressful search on my part, looking for the bocce ball set that I was determined to have at the party (even though we didn't actually get around to playing it), and finally, we were all there (even my Dad, who brought the grill, only slightly late, which stressed James out but there was enough potato and macaroni salad to bridge the gap between arrivals and meat consumption). The Olsens/Petersens came, as did the Gaertners, Heinrichs, Browns (Margaret and Meredith), Walens, Judkins, my in-laws and James's brother Mark, and my friend Sally from nursing school pre-reqs. Then, as the party was in full swing, I see a large fellow walking towards us, wearing a white cumberbund and bow tie, carrying a garbage bag with balloons peeking out the top, calling "Kristina, my darling!" towards us. Sally asked if I knew him. Um...I didn't. Who is this clown? James is grinning and holding the camera on "rec."

The fellow (never did catch his name) said he knew me from the first grade (unlikely) and had been searching for me for several years, only to find me on my thirtieth birthday and wanted to shower me with attention. Attention in the form of two ribbons on my shirt ("Happy Birthday" and "Very Important Person"), a balloon hat adorned with a balloon wiener dog, a purple lei, some heart bobble antennae, a party noise maker, and a giant balloon bouquet anchored by a stuffed animal dog and mug filled with a plush heart. Then he read me a poem about my wonderful birthday and had the rapt audience sing "Happy Birthday" like they were underwater (with their fingers dribbling their lips). So funny. My smile muscles were sore by the end. James later told me he was going to get a stripper (only to go down to boxers or swim shorts), but was vetoed by some conservative friends whose opinion he asked before booking the engagement. Considering all the kids there, it was probably a good thing. But for my 40th, all bets are off! :)

Me in my Birthday Garb

Gary and Gwen

We then had everyone grab something (or someone, in the case of Gary, who carried Gwen) and retreat to the house for the most fantastic red velvet birthday cake I've ever had. James ordered it from The Dessert Tray and had them cakewreck it up, much to my glee. Mom also brought a gluten-free carrot cake that was apparently very good, so everyone won on that front.
If you don't get it, go to cakewrecks.com and enjoy a good laugh

And even though I said to bring food instead of gifts, some people brought gifts anyway! So I got some lovely cookbooks from the Gaertners and Judkins, a pair of garden boots from my parents, a beautiful bouquet of flowers from Sally's garden, a lovely necklace/earring set from the Walens, a new pair of Danskos from James, as well as the I Love Macarons and Cookie Sutra books (the second of which made me blush furiously in front of the assembled friends and fam - not that I'm prudish, just sensitive to their sensibilities), and $50 from my in-laws, with instructions to "spend it on something you don't need." No problem! :) Everyone chatted for a while, then people had to start going home. I sent one bunch of balloons home with my sister Aubrey, and the other bunch with the Olsens. I figured, Gwen's too young to enjoy balloons and I'd rather have kids enjoy them than just watch them get sadder and sadder floating around our house over the next few days.

A beautiful necklace from Beth and Gary Walen

Beth, hoping her look of horrified piety covers her
mischevious grin while reading my Cookie Sutra book

After everyone left, my husband's family stuck around because they were staying the night, so we played Guillotine and The Great Dalmudi while James's and my dads chatted in the front room. Because it was my birthday, I was the Great Dalmudi, and therefore ended up winning both rounds before it got too late and everyone went to bed.

All in all, a wonderful birthday. But I think that after this, we're done entertaining for a while!

Gwen wanted to play frisbee at the park, but we didn't get around to it.
Next year, baby, ok?

Friday, May 7, 2010

Oh my...

So, James's sister Emilyann sent us an email about a Big Shoe Event at the Nordstrom Rack, and since James is a size 13-14 shoe, we thought we'd take a little family trip on the MAX to the downtown location to see what they had. Well, the bad news is that they weren't actually having a Sale, just a larger selection of large size shoes, and James didn't really find anything that he liked anyway. The good news is that while he was thus being disappointed in the men's section, I discovered wedges.

I've seen wedges on ladies' feet for years now, but always thought that they didn't apply to me* because 1) they would be too heavy, 2) they would be super uncomfortable, and 3) I'd fall down a lot. Well, I tried on a pair just for kicks and found that 1) they're made of super-light material like cork, 2) some actually have arch support, 3) unlike heels, the wedge gives more stability with the height (although not as steady as flats), and 4) they're rockin' awesome.
Just for reference, this is the pair of shoes I've worn day in and day out for the last 2 1/2 years:

My cordovan Danskos: super comfortable, clunky, workhorse shoes

So, I've needed some brown dress shoes to go with my earth-toned Sunday dresses, so I found this sweet pair:

Brown strappy wedges: I'll have to keep up my pedicure habit with these

And then I saw these.

Whoa Nellie

At first, I thought, "Ha, I should show these to James. He'd get a kick out of 'em. Then I'll put them back because they're about 6" tall and I have nothing to wear with them." But then I tried them on, and thanks to the pedicure that I got three weeks ago and hadn't chipped yet, my feet looked awesome. And I felt fancy and sexy. And I bought 'em. 'Cause they were on sale. Actually, both pairs were on sale. Pretty sweet.

Total bill: about $41 bucks for two rockin' pairs of shoes that once totaled almost $200, make me tower over my hubby and will probably send me shopping for fancier clothes to go with them.

*Upon further reflection, I realized that I actually own a pair of black strappy wedges and have for years. Or rather, I now own a black strappy wedge. The other is a casualty of the move. But I had them, wore them, and never thought of myself as a wedge person. I guess I always filed them into "clunky, strappy, platforms at an angle" instead of "wedges."

Friday, April 23, 2010

Five Years

Five years ago today, I married my best friend. It rained, I spilled punch on my dress, and there was w-a-y too much food at the reception. But none of that matters anymore. I've gotten accustomed to calling myself by my married name, putting the "Mrs." before it, getting the occasional "ma'am" from polite southern boys, and the look of my left hand with a ring around the fourth finger. I've gotten used to sharing a bed without hogging the lion's share of the sleeping real estate. I enjoy sharing housekeeping duties and the perks associated with someone else paying the phone bill (i.e. my phone hasn't been cut off because I forgot to pay the bill in at least five years). I have a Go-To person for advice and someone I can send funny emails to, knowing that they'll be appreciated (or at least tolerated). James is my best bud, my sounding board, my favorite person in the whole world, my sexy dance partner, co-chef, duet partner, cheerleader and shoulder to cry on.

I think we make a pretty good team. I often think I got the better end of the deal, but don't tell him that. Don't want him to get wise to this racket I've got going.

To celebrate our Big Five, I arranged for the Judkins (our fabulous daytime childcare friends) to watch Gwen for the day and set up a Date Day with my main squeeze. His assignment was to get off from work and make dinner plans (I figured he'd have a better idea on where to go, with his concierge training and aptitude for always knowing the best places to eat in P-town). I planned the rest of the day.

We had a nice, snuggly morning with the baby, who was cheerful in spite of a brooding cold that she caught from her mother. Then we got her bundled up and dropped her off at the Judkins's and made our way, bikes on the rack, to the trailhead of the Fanno Creek Trail. Neither of us had been on it before, and with the sun shining and a cool breeze blowing, it made for a fabulous ride. Nothing too strenuous, but lots of nature to enjoy, with the occasional playground or basketball court punctuating the scenery. We rode for a little over half an hour, making our way well into Tigard, before stopping briefly to swing on some swings and explore the potentials of one of the playgrounds, making plans for when Gwen is old enough to (1) ride in a bike trailer, and (2) play on a playground. Then we turned around and rode back, went home and took a shower.

Then we drove downtown to a little studio where I had arranged for a couples massage. Mmmm...massage.... James isn't too keen on strangers kneading his body, but for me, it's bliss. And he actually ended up enjoying the massage, especially since the therapist worked on a sore hamstring that had been bothering him recently. We got all relaxed and re-centered, and then hit up a sandwich joint around the corner that James had gone to before and really liked: Bunk. Darned good gourmet sandwiches, and since it was past 2pm and we hadn't eaten since breakfast, they were even tastier. The day was starting to cloud over, but it was still warm enough to enjoy our sandwiches on one of the patio tables out front (which was good, since the place was full). We cleared our places and then made our way down to the waterfront, where we found parking for ... the Cirque de Soliel!

I've wanted to go to the Cirque since I first saw that striped tent on the waterfront, years ago. They come to Portland quite frequently (it seems like every year or two), and always set up in the same spot, in spite of the growing development in that area. This year was the Kooza show. Our seats were near the center stage, a little more than halfway up the stadium, but as anyone who's been to the show will tell you, there isn't a bad seat in the place. The seating charts on the website look like you might miss some of the action being far back, but it's actually a quite intimate setting, and you feel like you're right in with the action (and you sometimes are - they go out and perform into the audience throughout the show). My favorite acts were the contortionist twins and what James dubbed the Wheel of Death. We also enjoyed the act with a man doing acrobatics on eight chairs stacked on top of each other (makes me worry about when Gwen starts climbing), a couple doing flips on a unicycle, a trapeze artist, a great performance from some tight-rope walkers (and bicycle riders), several hilarious (if slightly racy) comedy acts by a clown trio, some song and dance numbers, an impressive performance from a group of tumblers with the see-saw catapults, and probably a few more acts that escape me at this time (but were still amazing to watch). I'd love to take Gwen there when she's old enough to appreciate it (and hopefully not be freaked out by it - it was freaky at times). Oh, and the piece de resistance was the toilets! They had temporary bathrooms set up outside the Big Top, but instead of your classic stinky port-a-potty, they had flushing toilets! I know it sounds silly, but that really made the premium price for tickets worth it.

We left the circus and it was again up to James to lead us to food. He had printed off several addresses of places he's been wanting to try out, and we made our way to the first, Torro Bravo, a tapas place near Emanuel Hospital. James had heard rave reviews and our friends the Zollingers had raved about it personally, so we were eager to try it out. And our sandwiches were just about spent, so we were hungry! Our initial plan was that if the wait was 15 minutes, but if it was 30, we'd jet. The minute we stepped in, we knew we were boned. It was a 90 minute to 2 hour wait, and they were taking phone numbers of people who were still interested. Just at the thought, I started to feel weak, but then the hostess took pity on us and said if we wanted to wait, there were three tables that were on a first-come-first-serve basis because they were tucked in an undesirable corner of the restaurant, and one would be vacant in a few minutes. We nabbed it, and ordered a soda to tide us over until we could sit. It actually worked out for the best, since our little Candlelit Nook was sheltered from the hustle and bustle of the crowd, the drafts from the now-rainy evening, and we could smooch and giggle to our hearts' content.

We ordered the Tasting Menu, which consisted of two-person-sized portions of about eight tapas hand-picked by the chef/owner. We started off with a green salad with chopped egg and hazelnuts, then toast covered with a creamy white cheese and greens, bacon wrapped dates (I'm still dreaming of those dates!), chili-covered prawns, ox tail croquettes encrusted with a chocolate and cinnamon savory sauce, wilted spinach with pine nuts and a honey sauce, pork tenderloin wrapped in bacon and served over a avocado salad, with bread on the side and a parsley infused olive oil to dip it in or butter to spread on top. I'm sure I'm missing one or two items, but suffice to say we left full and content with our lot in life. But I wanted desert, so we made a drive by to Papa Haydns, where I got desert for James and myself, as well as Jac and Meagan for watching our baby so late. Jac had actually come over to our house with Gwen, so he could put her down at her bedtime and study, so we just came straight home to a sleeping baby and happy babysitter (they love Papa Haydns, too).

All in all, a great day. And to show how far we've come over the last five years, we didn't use a single coupon all day long, and that's ok. But it's really a once-in-five-years occasion. We're not made of money, after all. But it is comforting to know that we've come a long way since our wedding day, when we were scraping up the dough to buy our rather modest wedding rings, honeymooning at a family friend's cabin on Mt. Hood because we had one paycheck in our checking account and James had yet to find a job in Portland. We've finished school, changed jobs (only once each, though, after our respective graduations), bought two cars (one paid off!), bought a house and started the Parental Journey. We've fought, but not too often. We've grown so much mentally and emotionally, but also lost weight and gotten in better shape. I know James so much better now than I did five years ago, or even eleven years ago, when we first met, and looking back, I couldn't have made a better choice. He's not perfect, but he's perfect for me.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The long-overdue story

So here's the story, long overdue.

On August 15th, we moved into our new home. We had friends from the old ward and the new as well as family helping us out. We hoped to unpack immediately and settle in, but the boxes stayed in stacks, as they often do, and we only really managed to get out a little more than the necessities for a while.

We'd been in the house 10 days. The day was August 24th. We'd noticed that our clothes weren't drying as well as we expected, so James had spent the afternoon after work trying to clear out the dryer vent. I was working, and as we hadn't figured out a good return trip for me, my thoughtful husband James offered to come pick me up after my shift.

He started a load of laundry before he left.

When we pulled back into the driveway, we were puzzled to see that the garage door was open. Surely James had closed it before leaving the house. And why was it raining in the garage? James let out an exclamation of dismay and dashed into the house. I followed in a daze of horror and dread. Ascending the stairs, it soon became evident what had happened, although the how is still a bit fuzzy.

From what we can figure, the drainage hose that connected to the washing machine was poorly secured at best. Perhaps due to the minimal jostling the machine suffered as its brother was having his vent hose cleared, the grip on the connection was compromised sufficiently to pop it loose when filled with pressurized water. The end result was the wash cycle water and the rinse cycle water was diverted, not to the sewer as is only natural, but our upstairs laundry room, hallway, and wherever capillary action and gravity led it.

We did the only thing two brand-new homeowners could do in such a situation. I called my parents. He called our real estate broker. We cried. My parents came over and spent several hours helping us vacuum up the water and mop up the mess. Our broker came over (he happened to be in the neighborhood) and gave sympathy and guidance on who to call (insurance company), as well as possible renovations to avoid similar catastrophes in the future.

James called the insurance company and they moved fast. They contacted a home renovations company, Hansen Construction (who would become a household name in our home over the next several months), who were in our home by 11 that night. By that time, my parents had gone home, our broker had left, and I had curled up in an exhausted heap on the couch of the front room. James spent the next several hours directing and observing the crew tear apart our new home.

They ripped up the linoleum in the laundry room, all the carpet in the hallway and at least a few feet of carpet into each of the four bedrooms, the linoleum in the guest bathroom, down the stairs and part of the kitchen. They cut out the bottom 12-18 inches of the walls of almost the entire upstairs and put giant fans and de-humidifiers throughout the house.

At some point, I crawled into bed and went to sleep, but not before calling in to work, saying I wouldn't be in at 7 the next morning.

I woke before James the next day (he'd been up later, working with the crew until they left around 2 AM) and wandered through the wreckage. I went into the nursery and looked in the closet, where I had hung two little outfits. Seeing those little clothes amidst the wreckage was too much for me. How could I raise a baby in this shell of a house? We'd totally blown this whole homeowners thing. We hadn't even been here a month and we'd destroyed our home in one dunder-headed move. I sat down on the portion of the floor still carpeted, leaned against the crib, and cried.

By the time James awoke, I'd regained some composure and we got ready for Stage Two of the demolition, though at the time we didn't know it. Hansen came over at 9 AM and I listened in horror to phrases like "So, we'll tear out half of the ceiling in this room" and "This carpet in the front room will have to go, too." Steve, the demolition foreman, was wonderful, though. His calm explanations and capable personality gave us an island of comfort in this, our sea of despair.

James had called in to work the night before as well, so he spent much of the morning trying to get stuff done from home and talking with the demolition crew. I called into my work in the morning and said I could come in at 11 if they needed me, since there really was little to do but watch my new home get torn apart. They said I could come in at 3 and leave at 11 that evening, so I'd only miss out on 4 hours of actual work time. So we watched as our home had ceilings, walls, and floors torn out and thrown in the huge dumpster they'd parked in front of our house.

To be continued...